Fans who were on hand Friday for the first round of professional qualifying at the Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals were treated to perhaps the best single day of racing witnessed this year and Saturday’s packed schedule offers more of the same.
After two solid days of sportsman qualifying and eliminations, the Camping World Series pros hit the track on Friday evening for the first of three qualifying runs and the results were nothing short of spectacular.
John Force and his daughter, Brittany, fresh off an historic double win at the recent Topeka event, claimed the provisional to qualifying spots in Funny Car and Top Fuel, respectively.
John, who is not only seeking his sixth Indy win but also has a shot to enter the Countdown as the No. 1 seed in the class, blasted to a 3.877, 330.72 in his Peak/Blu Def Camaro. Force’s edge over the rest of the field is slim as Bob Tasca III, Robert Hight, and Cruz Pedregon are also comfortably seated in the field with 3.8-second runs.
Tasca, the low qualifier at the most recent event in Brainerd, wheeled his Motorcraft/Quicklane Ford to a 3.889 and also set the top speed of the event for Funny Cars at 332.67. Hight matched Tasca with a 3.889, but at a slightly slower 329.67 mph speed.
The final pair of Top Fuel cars under the lights brought the house down with Brittany Force and championship leader Steve Torrence running side-by-side 3.68s. Force ran 3.684 to take the early lead in her Monster Energy dragster while Torrence, in pursuit of a fourth-straight world championship, followed with a 3.688. Force also made the fastest pass of the event with a 334-mph speed.
After Force and Torrence, the next seven cars are all in the 3.7s including a resurgent Dough Kalitta (3.751), Josh Hart (3.755), Leah Pruett (3.755), Billy Torrence (3.756), Greg Carillo (3.769), Alex Laughlin (3.771), and Justin Ashley (3.796).
Among the Top Fuel drivers not currently qualified is Mike Salinas and Clay Millican.
In Pro Stock, second-year pro Kyle Koretsky has the inside track to the top qualifying spot after a 6.572 in his Lucas Oil Products/Nitro Fish Camaro. Koretsky managed to hold off Elite teammates Troy Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders, who came through with runs of 6.584 and 6.588, respectively.
Championship leader Greg Anderson, who has dominated qualifying this season, missed the Friday night set-up a bit and is currently slotted in the seventh spot at 6.608 with his HendrickCars.com Camaro.
Two-time Indy winner Eddie Krawiec is off to a solid start in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a 6.826 on his Vance & Hines Buell that was by far the best run of the day. Steve Johnson, another past Indy winner, sits second with a 6.860 on his Suzuki while defending Indy winner Scotty Pollacheck sits third at 6.866.
Matt Smith, who is both the championship leader and this season’s most consistent qualifier, sits No. 6 with a 6.892 on his Denso Buell, but Smith was also the only rider to top 200-mph.
Also noteworthy is the plight of six time world champ Andrew Hines who currently sits on the bump spot in the tough 16-car field with a 7.138. Hines entered the Dodge//SRT U.S. Nationals as the tenth ranked rider in the class and is in danger of missing the Countdown if he doesn’t qualify for this week’s event.
Saturday’s jam-packed schedule also features qualifying rounds in the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Series and the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown as well as a full roster of competition in the Lucas Oil Series sportsman categories.
You can catch the action all weekend on FOX Sports 1 and NHRA.tv.
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NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will feature two rounds of professional qualifying at noon and 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 4, with final eliminations set to start Sunday at 11 a.m.
Qualifying: Sunday, Sept. 5, 9 a.m., Eastern, FS1
Eliminations: Sunday, Sept. 5, 11 a.m., Eastern, FS1
Eliminations, Sunday, Sept. 5, 1 p.m., Eastern FOX